If you’ve ever wondered why there don’t seem to be as many Star Wars toys on the market as you might like, it’s not for lack of effort. The Lucasfilm team at Hasbro, who now have Indiana Jones toys to make as well as Star Wars, are working at maximum capacity. Which is why, for instance, you didn’t seen Hasbro Willow figures when the TV show came out.
“I would love to do Willow figures!” says design manager Chris Reiff. “It just wasn’t something that fit into the plans we had.” Adds marketing director Patrick Schneider, “I don’t think people would rather have had Willow than Indiana Jones, but hopefully we picked the right focus given the resources we have…A lot of times we’ll get requests for figures, and sometimes we’ll ask if you could’ve traded out a figure we had in the line for that one, would you have? More often than not, the answer is no.”
Does that include Renaldo, the half-lame sailor in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, who barely does anything? “I mean, Antonio Banderas, he’s awesome,” says Schneider, before strongly hinting that the line’s future very much depends upon good sales for Renaldo and his whole wave of figures. “A lot will depend for Indy on how this line does. I would personally love more in the future if that happens.”
Figures We Can Not See?
Fans have speculated that certain characters might be off-limits for political correctness reasons, but Schneider says nobody’s off limits — after all, they have made figures of the Nazi characters Toht and Voller. “Nothing’s necessarily out of bounds,” he says, “but we work to get the right ones in the slots we have that the community is looking for.”
The community, however, has expressed concerns that figure waves have been too front-loaded with Indy variants. For the Hasbro team, it’s about recreating larger scenes. “I haven’t watched the movies with this eye, but I’m pretty sure he’s in every scene, or close to it,” says Schneider. “We certainly spread them out throughout the year, we have them in all of our waves, we’ve got some exclusives, but we wanted to hit all of those key scenes and key moments, and of course Indy is the central player in all of those scenes, and so we wanted to get the right outfit for those moments.”
Back on Time
For Star Wars, the news is happier. From now on, expect new toys and announcements to actually come out at the same time as the show or movie they tie in with. “It’s not a Lucasfilm issue at all,” says Schneider. “It’s due to the pandemic and the supply chain issues which we had, and we’re seeing the shortening of that window. Again, Ahsoka, right? We’re revealing items before the show even starts, and those items will be in shelves during the TV series. We haven’t had that since 2019, and of course the big thing between 2019 and now is the pandemic and the supply chain lengthening. But the supply chain challenges are more in the rearview window, so we’re gonna see more day and date with entertainment moving forward. Next few months? We will definitely have much more Ahsoka product to show.”
The biggest Ahsoka-related item, of course, is the biggest starship ever made in the line – The Ghost, already fully crowdfunded through HasLab. Stretch goals include the crew on Rebels-themed cards, and while they will feature actor likenesses where appropriate — or the digital scan from The Mandalorian in Zeb’s case — this will be the only way to get them in classic Rebels colors, on those cards. The scale’s not quite one to one — “we’d be driving cars around that look like ships” if they did that, says Reiff — but “it’s in the universe of our ships. In the Star Wars universe it’s bigger than the Millennium Falcon so ours, it’s the biggest starship we’ve ever done. In every dimension.”
Hasbro has been offering popular holiday-themed Star Wars figures the last couple of years, but the first wave proved more popular than expected. Don’t expect to see them rereleased on Archive Collection cards, though. “The Archive Collection is really for those entertainment accurate characters. I don’t think we would archive them,” says Schneider. “If there’s that demand there, and we keep a close eye on after-market values and online chatter, I think we would just rerelease that first wave.”
There’s a precedent for that, he notes: “When we explore a new expression, we don’t wanna get over our SKUs, I’m thinking of the retro collection as well. That first wave of Ep IV characters in 2019 went out in lower volume. There was a lot of demand there in the market, so that’s why we rereleased them again in that 6-pack from last year. We could definitely rerelease that first wave in the future, but probably not on archive cardbacks.”
But speaking of holiday figures — you can’t really go there without mentioning the Star Wars Holiday Special, and this year it gets it’s first official 3-3/4 inch figure in Life Day Chewbacca. Thank (or blame?) Disney parks, which like to celebrate the holidays at Galaxy Edge with themed merchandise. “No-one has rocked a red robe and orb like Chewbacca can,” says Schneider. “The holiday special has a special place in the lore of Star Wars entertainment – obviously not the lore of the world, although the lore of the world as well. A couple years ago “The Faithful Wookiee” came to Disney+. I think the key here is we’ve got a really strong partnership with the parks, with the ShopDisney team, and Life Day is a really big celebration within Galaxy’s Edge.”
Does that mean we’re any closer to Star Wars figures of Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman? “Never say never. I think five years ago we said we’re probably never gonna get a Life Day Chewbacca, and here we are.”
Check out some of the Star Wars offerings in the images below: